Bram Stokerrs"s immortal tale of vampirism told the story of how Count Vlad Tepes came to London and met his demise at the hands of Abraham van Helsingrs"s vampire hunters. But how did Dracula occupy his time when he wasnrs"t stalking Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker
Dracula lives! but more in name than spirit in 16 new period riffs on his legend. Going back to Bram Stoker's original novel, Elrod (Time of the Vampires) asked contributors to this anthology, "What ELSE was Dracula doing in London when he was not being chased by Van Helsing and company " Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, in "Long-Term Investment," and Fred Saberhagen, in "Box Number Fifty," both have him duping ignorant human associates into elaborate schemes to conceal his coffins. Tanya Huff suggests he was drawn to social climbers and other predatory personalities in "To Each His Own Kind." In one of the book's most intriguing entries, Judith Proctor's "Dear Mr. Bernard Shaw," he is a theater patron who cannot understand how the deaths at the end of King Lear ennoble human suffering. Inevitably, Dracula rubs shoulders with a variety of Victorian-era celebrities, including Gilbert and Sullivan, Doctor Watson, Prince Edward, actress Ellen Terry and even a young Aleister Crowley. Inventive though they often are, few of these stories capture the subtle malignancy and terrifying misanthropy that has made Stoker's creation an indelible horror icon. Excepting Gene DeWeese's "An Essay on Containment" and Gary A. Braunbeck's "Curtain Call," which attempt to be more than mere outtakes from Stoker's tale, the majority are modern revisionist interpretations of Dracula as lover, dreamer, swashbuckler and bungler. For better or worse, they bear out the editor's professed fondness for any Dracula variation, "good and bad, sublime and silly." (Nov. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 27, 2004
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Excerpt from Dracula in London by P. N. Elrod
To Each His Own Kind
London was everything the Count had imagined it to be when he'd told Jonathan Harker of how he'd longed to walk "through the crowded streets . . . to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity." Although, he amended as he waited for a break in the evening traffic that would allow him to cross Piccadilly, a little less whirl and rush would be preferable.
He could see the house he'd purchased across the street, but it might as well have been across the city for all he could reach it. Yes, he'd wanted to move about unnoticed but this, this was wearing at his patience. And he had never been considered a patient man. Even as a man.
Finally, he'd been delayed for as long as he was willing to endure. Sliding the smoked glasses down his nose, he deliberately met the gaze of an approaching horse. In his homeland, the effect would have been felt between one heartbeat and the next. Terror. Panic. Flight. This London carriage horse, however, seemed to accept his presence almost phlegmatically.
Then the message actually made it through the city's patina to the equine brain.
Better, he thought and strode untouched through the resulting chaos. Ignoring the screams of injured men and horses both, he put the key into the lock and stepped inside.
He'd purchased the house furnished from the estate of Mr. Archibald Winter-Suffield. From the dead, as it were. That amused him.
His belongings were in the dining room at the back of the house.
"The dining room?" He sighed. His orders to the shipping company had only instructed that the precious cases be placed in the house. Apparently, here in this new country, he needed to be more specific. They would have to be moved to a place less conspicuous, but not now, not with London calling to him. He set his leather case upon the table and turned to go.
Stepping around a chair displaced by the boxes of earth, he brushed against the sideboard, smearing dust across his sleeve. Snarling, he brushed at it with his gloved hand but only succeeded in smearing it further. The coat was new. He'd sent his measurements to Peter Hawkins before he'd started his journey and had found clothing suitable for an English gentleman at journey's end. It was one of the last commissions Mr. Hawkins had fulfilled for him. One of the last he would fulfill for anyone, as it happened. The old man had been useful, but the necessity of frequent correspondence had left him knowing too much.
Opening the case, he pulled out a bundle of deeds this was not the only house that English dead had provided and another bundle of note paper, envelopes, and pens. As he set them down, he reminded himself to procure ink as soon as possible. He disliked being without it. Written communications allowed a certain degree of distance from those who did his bidding.
Finally, after some further rummaging, he found his clothing brush and removed the dust from his sleeve. Presentable at last, he tossed the brush down on the table and hurried for the street, suddenly impatient to begin savoring this new existence.
". . . to share its life, its change, its death, all that makes it what it is."
The crowd outside on Piccadilly surprised him and he stopped at the top of the stairs. The crowds he knew in turn knew better than to gather outside his home. When he realized that the people were taking no notice of him and had, in fact, gathered to watch the dead horse pulled up onto a wagon, he descended to the street.
He thrilled to his anonymity as he made his way among them. To walk through a great mass of Londoners unremarked-it was all he had dreamed it would be. To feel their lives surrounding him, unaware of their danger. To walk as a wolf among the unsuspecting lambs. To know that even should he declare himself, they would not believe. It was a freedom he had never thought to experience again.